Last updated: December 6, 2012 9:37 pm

Guatemala rejects McAfee asylum plea

John Mcafee under arrest in Guatalmala©Reuters

Guatemala on Thursday said it had rejected an asylum plea from software pioneer John McAfee and would deport him to neighbouring Belize for questioning about the murder of a US citizen.

“Asylum has been denied and we don’t have any obligation to say why,” said Harold Caballeros, the country’s foreign minister.

Barring a successful last-minute appeal, the decision appears to bring to an end Mr McAfee’s month-long attempt to evade Belizean authorities following the murder in early November of Gregory Faull, a US citizen and neighbour of Mr McAfee on the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye.

Faull, who was 52, was found November 11 in his beachfront villa lying face up in a pool of blood. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Police have not charged the multimillionaire antivirus pioneer with any crimes, saying simply that they consider him a “person of interest” in the murder case.

Later on Thursday, Mr McAfee suffered two mild heart attacks and was taken to a police hospital in Guatemala, according to a report by Reuters quoting Mr McAfee’s lawyer.

On Thursday, Raphael Martinez, spokesman for the Belizean police, told the FT: “When he gets to Belize, he will be handed over to the police and detained for questioning. Depending on what he says, he will either be free to go or charges will be brought against him if he is suspected of being guilty of any crimes.”

Mr McAfee, 67, has said many times since fleeing from police that he had nothing to do with Faull’s murder. But he refused to hand himself in because he said he feared that Belizean authorities would harm or even kill him.

Mr McAfee, who in 1987 invented the antivirus software that still bears his name, moved to the tiny Central American nation of 350,000 people about four years ago. But he claims that tension had been building between him and the authorities in recent months.

In April, police raided one of his properties on the mainland in search of illegal firearms and drugs. Mr McAfee was later released and no charges were brought against him.

During most of his time on the run, Mr McAfee was holed up in secret locations on the Ambergris Caye and then in Belize City, the country’s capital.

But this week, and following an intrepid overland dash for the border, Mr McAfee made his first public appearance in weeks as he showed up in a luxury hotel in Guatemala City.

On Wednesday night, and just hours after Mr McAfee announced that he had hired a prominent Guatemalan lawyer, Guatemalan police arrested him for allegedly having entered the country illegally. He spent the night in an immigration detention centre.

On Thursday, a friend of Mr McAfee who has been helping him maintain his website blogged that he had received an urgent call from Mr McAfee asking the public to petition the Guatemalan government “to allow the court system to proceed, to determine my status in Guatemala”.

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